Glasgow (by way of Northern Ireland) pop rockers Snow Patrol define rising success. I caught up with the Grammy-nominated group's front man Gary Lightbody via phone last week and picked his brain about, well, everything - from his feelings on fame and fortune to their latest album, Eyes Open, to Snow Patrol's highly-anticipated 2007 U.S. tour. The interview went a lil' something like this:
Jamie the Journalist/Me: So Alexandra (of Magnum PR) just informed me of your Grammy nomination. Congratulations! Thoughts?
Lightbody: It's great! I mean we're not really big on awards. Red Carpets aren't really our optimum domain, but Grammys are world-renowned. It's very prestigious and it's amazing to be nominated. I think in terms of U.K. bands this year it's just us and Keane and The Arctic Monkeys so that's...There hasn't been a Northern Irish band nominated for the Grammys in quite some time so we're kind of representing a little.
Me: You guys have certainly been in the rock and roll limelight these past few years.
Lightbody: You know, it's strange because we've been goin' for 12 years so it's obviously...The last few years we've sort of burst out of nowhere, but we've been working hard for many years. Not that we feel vindicated by our success because that's the wrong attitude to have. It's certainly satisfying though when everything finally sort of starts to work. We've had a number one record in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, in the U.K. and Top Five in the States. It's been pretty much a world wind year!
“ Self-congratulation is quite destructive really. (If) you start to believe your own bullshit, you believe in something other than yourself. ”
Me: Talented and gifted equating with fame and fortune.
Lightbody: As far as fame and fortune goes, we don't really think about that stuff. Because we're on tour so much we don't really sort of get to stop and admire ourselves. Not that we'd want to anyway! Self-congratulation is quite destructive really. (If) you start to believe your own bullshit, you believe in something other than yourself. Funnily enough it's places like award shows that make you go "Hey, we're great." It's all very back-slapping.
Me: Thoughts on studio time versus stage time.
Lightbody: In the studio, it's much more refined. We get to take our time. Live shows are all about moments. Tiny little moments that lift a crowds' arms in the air or raise the volume of a room or raise the temperature of a room. In the studio...the studio, for us anyway, it's about taking a more considerate approach. Garrett Lee, our producer, has been invaluable, really. He's amazingly intuitive. Where we've struggled he's been able to bring us out of ourselves.
Me: Let's talk about your latest and greatest - the 2006 full-length release Eyes Open:
Lightbody: We were pretty ambitious this time! Wanted to make a really big-sounding record. See if we could compete with big bands. I think our ambition was gigantic, but we still didn't go against our gut feeling, which is to make music everyone can relate to. You know, don't make it so big that you're just terrifying people. In Eyes Open, there are still moments of intimacy - many moments that are very honest and forthright.
Me: The success of the album here in America is tremendous.
Lightbody: I think that one reason it's been successful in America is that it was inspired by a lot of American bands. In the early days we were inspired by Nirvana and Mudhoney and Sonic Youth and Soundgarden. Alternative bands. Now our music pallet is much borader. Newer influences for us include pop guitar bands like Death Cab for Cutie. Also Canadian bands like Arcade Fire. We didn't want to just step into the pop world with this album.
The Glasgow crowd is like 10,000 candles. 10,000 human candles and you're wondering how the hell you got there.
Me: So what is it like performing in American cities versus back home in Glasgow?
Lightbody: Eh, can't really compare playing at home in Glasgow to playing in other cities in, like, Australia or America. The Glasgow crowd is like 10,000 candles. 10,000 human candles and you're wondering how the hell you got there. Pretty much everywhere else in the world it's a little more subdued than that. In America, though, we're playing bigger and bigger shows. Our American tour in March is going to be our biggest tour yet. We can't wait, you know? Going to play the theatre in Madison Square Garden. Lots of amazing venues around the country.
Me: What are your favorite cities/places to play?
Lightbody: Love playing in Australia. Feel like I could live there. The people, they're like the Irish. Very similar sense of humor to the Irish - only without the guilt of the Irish! It's too hot and nice in Australia to be guilty about anything. But in America, I'm in one of my favorite cities speaking to you right now. I'm in Seattle. I've never failed to have fun here. Probably is my favorite place in the States. Chicago I love as well. Boston, San Francisco, New York...have lots of friends in L.A. America is a lot of fun for us. It's good to know the lay of the land. We've done the exploring in America now so we find our ways around the cities. Nice not to feel like a visitor anymore.
In addition to Lead Singer/Guitarist Gary Lightbody, Snow Patrol's members include Nathan Connolly (Guitar and Backing Vocals), Paul Wilson (Bass and Backing Vocals), Tom Simspon (Samples and Keys) and Jonny Quinn (Drums).
The group's 2007 North American Tour kicks off February 26 in Portland, Oregon.
02.26.07 - Portland, OR (Memorial Coliseum)
02.27.07 - Seattle, WA (Key Arena / Seattle Center)
03.01.07 - San Francisco, CA (Bill Graham Civic Auditorium)
03.02.07 - Universal City, CA (Gibson Amphitheatre)
03.03.07 - San Diego, CA (SDSU Open Air Theatre)
03.05.07 - Magna, UT (Saltair)
03.06.07 - Denver, CO (Fillmore Auditorium)
03.08.06 - Tulsa, OK (Cain's Ballroom)
03.09.07 - Grand Prairie, TX (Nokia Theatre Grand Prairie)
03.10.07 - Austin, TX (Stubbs Bar-B-Q)
03.11.07 - Houston, TX (Verizon Wireless Theater)
03.19.07 - Coral Gables, FL (Bank United Center)
03.20.07 - Orlando, FL (Hard Rock Live)
03.21.07 - Duluth, GA (The Arena at Gwinnett Center)
03.23.07 - Washington, DC (TBC)
03.24.07 - Camden, NJ (Tweeter Center On The Waterfront)
03.26.07 - New York, NY (The Theater at Madison Square)
03.28.07 - Boston, MA (Agganis Arena)
03.30.07 - Montreal, QC (Metropolis)
03.31.07 - Toronto, ON (Ricoh)
04.01.07 - Detroit, MI (State Theatre)
04.02.07 - Chicago, IL (Aragon Ballroom)
04.04.07 - St. Louis, MO (The Pageant)
04.05.07 - Milwaukee, WI (Eagles Ballroom)
04.06.07 - Minneapolis, MN (Northrop Auditorium)
04.07.07 - Winnipeg, MB (Burton Cummings Theatre)
04.09.07 - Calgary, ALB (MacEwan Hall Ballroom)
04.10.07 - Edmonton, AB (Shaw Conference Center)
Story by Jamie Lee